His Highness Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and son, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani
The ruling monarch Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani inherited the throne from his father in 2013. His Father, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalafi Al Thani ( Sunni born January 1952) is a member of the Al Thani Qatari royal family and he ruled in Qatar from 1995-2013. He graduated in 1971 from the British Royal Military Academy at Sand Hurst. (Qatar was a British protectorate until September, 1971 and December 18 is when they celebrate their Qatar National Day for both the founding of today’s Qatar in 1878 and its independence from Great Britain in 1971.)
The following is an excerpt from the CIA’S World Factbook on Qatar which states:
“Ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Qatari economy was crippled by a continuous siphoning off of petroleum revenues by the amir, who had ruled the country since 1972. His son, HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani, overthrew the father in a bloodless coup in 1995. In short order, HAMAD (1995-2013) oversaw the creation of the pan-Arab satellite news network Al-Jazeera and Qatar’s pursuit of a leadership role in mediating regional conflicts. In the 2000s, Qatar resolved its longstanding border disputes with both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. As of 2007, oil and natural gas revenues had enabled Qatar to attain the highest per capita income in the world. ( $86,000 + per yr.)
“Qatar has not experienced domestic unrest or violence like that seen in other Near Eastern and North African countries in 2010-11, due in part to its immense wealth. Since the outbreak of regional unrest, however, Doha has prided itself on its support for many of these popular revolutions, particularly in Libya and Syria. In mid-2013, HAMAD transferred power to his 33 year-old son, the current Amir TAMIM bin Hamad – a peaceful abdication rare in the history of Arab Gulf states. TAMIM has prioritized improving the domestic welfare of Qataris, including establishing advanced healthcare and education systems and expanding the country’s infrastructure in anticipation of Doha’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup.”
During the elder Sheik Hamad’s rule (1995-2013), Qatar hosted two US military bases, Al Udeid Air Base and Camp As Sayliyah. In the past, his country was party to the 2014 controversial swap of releasing 5 Taliban from Guantánamo to be under the strict surveillance of the Qatar regime in exchange for Bergdahl, who had been held by Taliban forces for five years. It was hoped that this overture would reignite a constructive dialogue between the US and the Taliban. In 2015 the talks between the US and the Taliban ended when the Talibans indicated that they would not abide by any agreement until all US military forces left Afghanistan.
During the elder’s Sheikh Hamad bin Khalafi Al Thani reign (1995 -2013) several sports and diplomatic events took place in Qatar, including the 2006 games, 2012 UN Climate Change Conference, Doha Agreement( 2008 agreement ending the Lebanon Civil War). Qatar managed to win the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In 2013, he established the Qatar Investment Authority which invested over $100 billion around the world. Qatar’s financial well being has been tremendously enhanced by the government’s willingness to promote financial diversification and to enact more liberal policies effecting their citizens.
His gorgeous second wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser AL Missned has been a heavily involved in advocacy for children’s causes and education.
For years, Qatar had a positive relationship with Israel until 2009 when Qatar severed diplomatic ties with Israel in response to Israel’s actions during the Gaza War and because of Israel’s settlement policy.
Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (R) meets with Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi (bottom) and US President Obama (top).
Wikipedia reports the following information on His Highness, Sheikh Hamad (1995-2013):
“In October 2012, Hamad made a historic visit to Gaza and pledged US $400 million in humanitarian aid to Hamas. Sheikh Hamad provided financial and material support to opposition rebels in both the Libyan Civil War, which led to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, and the ongoing Syrian civil war which seeks to oust President Assad.”
“The Emir made a $100 million donation for the relief of New Orleans following the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. He was a key person in the cease fire during the 2006 Lebanon War and contributed majorly in the relief of damaged areas. In 2012, the Emir proposed deploying Arab troops to reduce killings in the Syrian Civil War.”
BBC News published an Overview of Qatar on 5/21/15 and the following are some excerpts:
“Qatar, a former pearl-fishing centre and once one of the poorest Gulf states, is now one of the richest countries in the region, thanks to the exploitation of large oil and gas fields since the 1940s.”
“Dominated by the Thani family for almost150 years, the mainly barren country was a British protectorate until 1971, when it declared its independence after following suit with Bahrain and refusing to join the United Arab Emirates.”
“In 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalafi Al Thani deposed his father to become emir and during his reign introduced some liberal reforms.”
“Press freedom was extended and the Qatari satellite TV station Al-Jazeera has become one of the most important broadcasters in the Arab world.”
“Elections in 1999 for a 29-member municipal council were the first in which Qatari women were allowed to vote and stand for office.”
“A constitution providing for limited democratic reforms came into force in 2005. The new basic law provided for a legislature – the Advisory Council – with 30 elected members and 15 members appointed by the emir.”
“Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani assumed the role of emir when his father abdicated in June 2013.”
“The population is small. Foreigners – including labourers attracted by a construction boom – outnumber natives. Oil money funds an all-embracing welfare state, with many services free or heavily subsidised, but the treatment of migrant workers is frequently criticized by rights groups.”
“Possessing more than 15% of the world’s proven gas reserves, Qatar has ambitions to become an energy giant and uses its wealth to pursue regional and global ambitions. Not all of its regional interventions are popular with other Arab leaders, such as its support for the Hamas faction in Gaza and Islamist groups in Egypt and Syria.”